Clashes in Iraq's Ramadi enter third day

AFP , Wednesday 1 Jan 2014

Protesters burn a police vehicle during fighting in Ramadi December 31, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Iraqi security forces clashed sporadically on Wednesday with militants who burned four police stations in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, an AFP journalist said.

The journalist saw four torched police stations in the city, one of which was still on fire and said two military vehicles had also been burned.

Clashes broke out in the Ramadi area on Monday as security forces dismantled the country's main Sunni Arab anti-government protest camp, which was located on a nearby highway.

At least 14 people, all but one of them militants, died in violence in the area on Monday and Tuesday.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Tuesday Iraqi troops would pull out of cities in Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital, in a move apparently aimed at defusing high tensions in the wake of the camp's closure.

The withdrawal was one of the demands that 44 Iraqi MPs made on Monday during a news conference where they announced they had submitted their resignations.

In another move apparently aimed at placating Anbar residents, the cabinet decided on Tuesday to provide aid to the province.

The oil, trade and health ministries were to provide food, fuel and medical items, and other ministries would also give "support and necessary services to Anbar province," the cabinet said.

The removal of the camp was a victory of sorts for Maliki, who had long wanted it gone and had termed it a "headquarters for the leadership of Al-Qaeda."

But while its closure removed a physical sign of deep-seated grievances among Sunni Arabs, their complaints of being marginalised by Shiite-led authorities and unfairly targeted by security forces remain unaddressed. 

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